The Manatee


Manatee Quiz

Manatees came to being in the middle Eocene period around 45 to 50 million years ago. Now, scientists believe that manatees are closely related to elephants. Before recent studies, the belief was that the manatee was most closely related to the rhinosorous. Scientists believe that they evolved from land mammals and became an aquatic species. (2) Although manatees do not currently have hind limbs, it is believed they once did. This is believed because they have a vestigial pelvic bone. (9)

The jaw of a manatee is one in which has greatly adapted to its herbivorous way of life. Along with their unique jaw structure, manatees teeth and lip have also greatly changed. To allow for easy chewing, manatees have several molars to chew and break down their food. To guide food into their mouths, manatees have large, split lower lips. (3)

The Manatee....(2)

Phylum: Cordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Trichechidae


Amazonian Manatee - Trichechus Inunguis

West African Manatee - Trichechus Senagalensis

West Indian Manatee - Trichechus Manatus

Sub Species:

Florida Manatee - Trichechs Manatus Latirostris

Antillian Manatee - Trichechus Manatus Manatus

Manatees are related to the Dugongidae (Arctic Sea Cows) family which are now extinct. The Arctic Sea Cow became extinct because they did not have the proper fitness to survive and reproduce. (2)

The diagram below shows the changes that have occurred over time. It also shows how manatees living in different parts of the world have adapted to their environments differently. (Source linked to the picture)

Click on Image to view source